New CofE guidance: fabric and building maintenance

The Church of England has updated the Fabric and building maintenance section of its COVID-19 advice to include documents on: Access to church buildings during lockdown guidance checklist; Parish risk assessment template. There are also new FAQs and guidance on What advice is there for access to buildings during lockdown?, and on What advice is there for keeping the church clean? In addition, there is a new FAQ and guidance on What guidance is there for pastoral support in the community, including care homes?

The FAQs are available here (scroll down), and links to the new documents are summarized below.


Towards Re-opening Church Buildings: Covid-19 Risk Assessment Checklist for Parish Churches, v1, (200522).

House of Bishops Covid-19 Recovery Group, (4 pages).

This document provides a template risk assessment, with links to the relevant advice notes. It relates to situations where there is limited access to church buildings the purposes of private prayer, livestreaming, construction, carrying out of contractual work, building maintenance and cleaning. This template relates exclusively to Covid-related risks, not general risks. If you would like more information about your responsibilities under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations then information and templates can be found on the HSE website.

A further version of this will be produced when small services such as weddings and funerals are allowed, then for private prayer, then for some form of public worship. At present no public access is permitted to church buildings under government guidance.

The full document is available here


Access to church buildings during lockdown: general advice for incumbents, churchwardens and PCC members, v1, (22 May 2020)

House of Bishops Covid-19 Recovery Group, (10 pages)

On 5th May the House of Bishops’ announced a phased approach to the return to church buildings, echoed in government guidance published on 11th May. This note provides advice which will help PCCs and Chapters to work towards this in the best way for them and ensure that buildings are in appropriate condition to be used for such purposes as are allowed. It reflects that church buildings remain closed to the public but anticipates their gradual return to use.

In addition to this document the following advice has been issued to help support parishes and cathedrals with managing church buildings in specific situations as lockdown restrictions change:

  • Advice for clergy on accessing church buildings
  • Advice on cleaning church buildings
  • Advice on access for professional contractors
  • Advice on re-starting construction projects
  • Advice on weddings and funerals
  • Advice on individual prayer

The full document is available here.


Access to church buildings during lockdown: advice for incumbents, v3, (22 May 2020).

House of Bishops Covid-19 Recovery Group, previous versions published by The Archbishops’ Council, Cathedral and Church Buildings Division, (2 pages).

This advice is written to help clergy return to their churches safely. It is intended to be helpful and not to put an additional burden on clergy whilst at the same time enabling clergy to pray and livestream in a way that protects both their and others health.

This advice seeks to help clergy and church councils prepare to reopen churches when circumstances allow. It is recognised that for all kinds of specific reasons to do with both people and buildings a particular local church may not be able to open at the same time as others and collaborative working between local churches is encourage

The full document is available here.


Keeping church buildings clean, v1, (22 May 2020)

Archbishops’ Council, Cathedral and Church Buildings Division, (4 pages)

This advice is based on the recently produced (11th May 2020) Government guidance on how to work safely during coronavirus, and guidance issued by Historic England (links to these documents can be found at the end of this advice.) None of the advice was written specifically for churches, so needs to be interpreted based on the local context and situation.

The full document is available here.


COVID-19 Advice on pastoral support in the community, including care homes, v1, (20 May 2020).

The House of Bishops Covid-19 Recovery Group, (3 pages)

This document is for planning purposes only until present restrictions are lifted. It will be kept under review and updated as events develop, with each update issued as a new version. The current version will always be available to download from the Church of England website via the Coronavirus FAQs page.

The full document is available here.


Comment

The technical advice papers were circulated by the Diocese of Oxford in its update 22 May: Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest, and reported here. They have now been added to the Church of England advice pages on coronavirus and contain additional URLs for cross-referencing. Our post and other references to the earlier documents have been revised accordingly.

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "New CofE guidance: fabric and building maintenance" in Law & Religion UK, 27 May 2020, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2020/05/27/new-cofe-guidance-fabric-and-building-maintenance/

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